Today I did one of the scariest things I have ever done.
Oh, physically, I have done worse (like bungee jumping in Nepal), but today I did something that will change me in a way that leaping off a tiny platform over a deep gorge never could.
Today, I let myself be seen.
I got some one-on-one bodywork done. Usually I do my energy work in groups, so I can hide, so I can be the one up the back not drawing too much attention when my real emotions show up. As always, I can talk a great game, as long as I am not feeling at all vulnerable.
But today, I went one-on-one, working on some deep vulnerabilities, and kept my eyes open the whole time. Yes, there was a deliberate and agreed plan that I would maintain eye contact with this man who was helping me shift energy blocks. I allowed myself to see and be seen at my most vulnerable, with all my insecurities out in the open. It was possibly the hardest thing I have ever done. To not close my eyes or jump up and run out of the room took every bit of self-control I have.
Okay, so this was just work for him, but he knew and understood what I was facing and was willing to stand there and help me. And, at the end of the process, who or what he was was not important, but I will never forget how I felt. I will never forget that I was brave enough to take that step.
A first step out of hiding.
We all secretly want to be seen. We want to be understood.
elephant journal has several “How to Love a (Scorpio, girl who travels, girl who reads, introvert)” articles. They all have their own “how to love them” manual. And I bet, I truly would put money on the line, that at least 90 percent of the people who click on those articles are in fact the bearers of the said star sign/characteristic/behavior rather than their lovers.
And what does that tell you? That we all seek to be seen. To feel understood. To be heard. But this is a secret wish. A wish that makes us feel vulnerable. A wish we hide behind masks.
I am great at hiding behind masks. Here are a couple of my go-to choices:
- The “easy-going” mask
I am not so much being the ‘good girl’ or repressed ‘nice girl,’ but I very rarely feel any need to rock the boat. On the contrary, I feel the need to pitch in, help out, be accommodating, simple to deal with.
Not out of fear of not being liked, but mostly just because I can.
I am easy going—everyone else has such busy lives, of course I can accommodate your schedule; I can meet whenever suits you; I don’t mind if you cancel or change our plans. And most of the time, I truly don’t mind. But sometimes, I f*cking do!
Do not mistake my kindness for weakness. I want to be seen as being as real as you, as significant as you. I want to be seen as being significant to you.
- The detached observer mask
This kind of snowballed out of control when I became a therapist. I could hide behind my professional detachment, not only not having to share anything of myself, but also withholding my thoughts and feelings from my everyday life. Problem is, the more personal the other person gets, the more I withdraw. This has not worked out so well for me in “deep and meaningful”relationship conversations.
What I really want to say is, “Stop talking at me!” Let me breathe. Let me think. Give me time to connect and answer, because I won’t speak rashly. I will not retaliate or play tit for tat.
But I don’t say all that. I just hide.
So here is my thought for today…nope, it is nothing as simple as “what masks are you wearing?” because I am going to assume you have already asked yourself that question while reading mine. My questions are:
who do you secretly want to see you? What hints are you dropping, what signals are you giving, all the while hiding behind your masks to ensure that even when they look, they won’t really see you anyway?
Because this is what we do. We create these secret wishes to be seen, engage in crazy behaviors trying to be seen, but not really showing ourselves at the same time. We see this shit in movies all the time. We are fed bullshit about how the ‘right’ person will love you no matter how much you hide. That the ‘right’ person will get your hints and see straight through your masks.
Own your crap people. Yes, we all want to be seen, to be loved for who we are. But we are all running around hiding who we are! This is craziness! We are so busy wishing someone else would see us, understand us, that we don’t see and understand ourselves.
I don’t have any brilliant answers. I am the person who has to pay a guy so she can look at him and feel vulnerable at the same time (no, it was not like that—it was just energy work!). But I know that I am a person who is trying. I am a person who owns her secret wishes. I am person who would read an article entitled “How to Love an Aries” knowing full well she would rather be reading an article called “How to Survive Being an Aries.” Because it is lovely to imagine someone else loving me, seeing me, understanding me, but I am not in control of that. I am only responsible for loving, seeing and understanding myself.
Author: Tui Anderson
Editor: Renée Picard
Photo: Stuart Heath at Flickr